Wolfgang Schön

Wolfgang Schön is the Director of the Department of Business and Tax Law at the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance in Munich and Honorary Professor at Munich University. Before joining the Max Planck Society in 2002, he studied law in Bonn (1979 – 1984), clerked for the Cologne Court of Appeals (1985 – 1988), earned his doctoral degree in 1985, completed his habilitation in 1991, and held full professorships at the University of Bielefeld (1992 – 1996) and the University of Bonn (1996 – 2002). Wolfgang Schön has been a visiting professor at Tilburg University, Vienna University of Business and Economics, NYU, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, University of British Columbia, the Universities of Antwerp and Liège and Bocconi University (Milan).

He is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (Amsterdam) and an International Research Fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation. He was Chairman of the Board of the European Association of Tax Law Professors and the Vice-Chair of the Permanent Scientific Committee of the International Fiscal Association. He is currently a Member of the Board of Trustees of Bucerius Law School (Hamburg) and a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Hertie Foundation (Frankfurt).

From 2008 – 2014 he served as Vice President of the Max Planck Society, from 2014 – 2021 as Vice President of the German Research Foundation.

Contact: ws45@nyu.edu

Research Project

The Future of the Fiscal State in Europe. The shape of the European Union and the institutional interaction between the Union and the Member States has been fundamentally determined by fiscal objectives and powers right from its inception in 1957. This refers to the allocation of budgetary powers at the level of the Union and the Member States as well as to the right to levy and legislate on taxes and the capacity to take on public debt. The history of the European Union can be told as a history of incremental centralisation of fiscal powers, accompanied by the establishment of a “mesh” of mutual control rights between the European Institutions and its Member States.   The current state of affairs is less than satisfactory: While the European Union has the power to intervene vis-à-vis the Member States’ tax measures by means of legislation (directives), infringement procedures or state aid decisions, Member States on their part strongly control decision making at the European level, where unanimity is required for any legislation regarding mainstream taxation. The Union’s Own Resources are subject to a complex sequence of decision-makers and veto players, including not only the main European Institutions and Member States’ executive branches but also the parliaments of all Member States where sovereignty in all budgetary matters is located. This research project has been set up to address the question of whether it is possible to build a coherent and sustainable fiscal constitution for the European Union. Such constitution would have to create a satisfactory division of fiscal powers between the Union and the Member States on the one hand and establish mechanisms at the European level that enable the Union to meet the manifold challenges arising from new geopolitical alliances, climate change, demographics, currency issues and so on.